Lads. In 2014 they came up behind us, a thousand-strong throng of lads sprinting towards us on the Ibiza strip, all of them jabbing us in the kidneys and shouting some combination of "wahey" and "banter". They became a scourge. They distributed pamphlets about how best to shag and do banter, they shared Dapper Laughs Vines. And then, in 2015, they mellowed; they took the Stussy caps off their heads and needled them apologetically in their hands. Lads were sorry, lads promised they would learn. In 2016 we've had something of a lad amnesty: lads are there, certainly, but they aren't in our faces, they do not do strawpedos at us in quite so aggressive a manner. And there, quietly, doing reps in the dust, is Scotty T from Geordie Shore.
I have been watching a lot of Geordie Shore lately, and if you had any sense you would be doing so too. There is something so soothing about it, the relentless monotony: as waves break against the seashore, doomed to repeat the slow dance of water-on-sand 12 hours later, so the Geordie Shore Geordies conduct their lives of unremitting déjà vu. Gaz and Aaron walk into a club VIP area and yell "shots". Holly Hagan cries in a nightclub. And the dance goes on, long and lonely into the night, until they wake hungover on cheap pink bedding and start it over again. In many ways, every member of the cast of Geordie Shore is Sisyphus, cursed forever to carry the rock of mortal banter up the hill of central Newcastle.
Scott "Scotty" Timlin "T" is Geordie Shore's oak-hewn leviathan, a rail-replacement Howard the Duck, a Geordie adonis. Here, verbatim, are the first words Scotty T said to a breathless and awaiting Geordie Shore audience, on or around the 6th of November, 2012, with the same rolling intonation as a train announcer ticking off distant satellite stationed stops:
"My name's Scotty T, I'm 24, I'm a club promoter, I'm from the heart of Newcastle, I'm a fucking weapon and I grill more birds than George Foreman."
These are words that deserve to be carved into marble, Scotty T's Geordie Shore introduction our new Bible, our new holy text. And we shall gather in high cathedrals and chant the words: "My name's Scotty T, I'm 24, I'm a club promoter." A choirboy stands, his voice rising up into a eunuch note, and he tentatively sings: "I'm a fucking weapon." And then the flock will rise to their feet, clad in their holy River Island two-for-£12 vests, and say in one voice, in unison: "I grill more birds than George Foreman."
What I like most about these apocrypha is the fact that Scotty T came fully formed, like a giant rising out of the sea. That Scotty T entered the Geordie Shore house in series four, when the ley lines of Geordie Shore had been drawn, when the cream Geordies – Vicky Pattinson, Gary "Gaz" Beadle, Holly Hagan, the one who pissed the bed – had risen to the top, and the crop Geordies – Jay, with the face and eyebrows of an especially vicious drag queen; Greg, with the low-level mood swings and permanent cap-wearing of an older stepbrother who has to live with his mum after his job at Halfords falls through – had been sifted out. When we knew the shape of Geordie Shore, the form. And then into it, a deity: Scotty T.
Scotty T's first words stated that he grills more birds than a George Foreman sandwich press. Consider: what did this man do before he was on Geordie Shore? Can you imagine Scotty T pacing around Newcastle – unbidden, not shackled to a glossy, MTV-friendly reality show, Scotty T just out there being Scotty T, grilling birds, wearing vests, coaxing his hair into a fluffy pompadour – all without cameras following him, unable to sit on a stool and carefully explain how many girls he'd had sex with in the previous eight-hour period? Can you imagine Scotty T without Geordie Shore now? Can you imagine how lost and alone he must have been?
A simple episode of Geordie Shore goes something like this: we open with a fragmented disagreement rolled over from the previous episode, an argument between two core strands of Geordie, most often a boy and a girl who either did or did not tash on, and the status of the tashing (on, off) being the central bone of contention. So you have, for example, Holly Hagan in front of a green screen going, "AH CANNAE BELIEVE KYLE DIDN'T FUCK US," and then it cuts to them both in the kitchen, drinking tea and saying "Y'alright," and then Kyle is on the other side of the green screen, going, "AH CANNAE BELIEVE I DIDN'T FUCK HOLLY, MAN."
So this is the set-up: Kyle and Holly, or whoever, did not fuck, despite really wanting to fuck.
This normally leads to conflict. Like it turns out Marnie wants to fuck Kyle, so she starts shit with Holly. Or Aaron, who is so Geordie it is a speech impediment, tashed on with Holly last week, and now he wants to know why Kyle is marching in all over his bird, a message he makes clear by flipping a table over six, maybe seven times. This is the soothing massage of Geordie Shore, the perpetual dance. A new tash-rift has been forged and the wreckage will roll over onto the next episode. Watching Geordie Shore on a hangover is a perfect cuddle of certainty: there is something relaxing and hypnotic about watching the housemates get wrecked, get shagged, roll hungover out of disgustingly unmade beds and be told by an anonymous blonde woman that they have to do an hour of work today.
This is the groove that has seen Geordie Shore pick up viewers, slow and steady, and seen the prime cast swell in cultural significance, become tastemakers, business owners, fitness DVD havers, low-key millionaires. While other reality shows flounder, constantly shifting casts, shifting focus – losing Mark Wright because he wanted to present a TV show called Mark Wright's Hollywood Nights; losing Spencer Matthews and getting stuck with Sam Thompson – Geordie Shore stays honest, with a cast that stays true. And Scotty T is the gilded lynchpin.
Which is he happier grilling: birds, or Hovis? And does it even matter?
The primary quality of Scotty T, both within the confines of Geordie Shore and just in general day-to-day life, is that he is essentially beef-proof: he floats above drama obliviously, like an angel.
I have a theory that Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump can both base their dual successes on the same core trait: that they are humiliation-proof, that there is nothing you can do to embarrass either, that they own their personal brands and dominate their opinions of themselves so profoundly that you cannot hurt them.
In many ways, the same goes for Scotty T. Case in point: a recent episode saw Scotty pull and, for whatever reason, the girl didn't come back home with him, and so later there was a shot of him back at the house just gratefully eating toast, his face exactly as satisfied, you feel, as it would have been if he was having sex. And that is the core truth of Scotty T, ultimate lad: how can a man be hurt when he has toast? How can you fail to be happy in a world where both women and cooked bread exist? Which is he happier grilling: birds, or Hovis? And does it even matter?
Slowly, without us noticing it, Scotty T has metamorphosed into something else: from a George Foreman-brand bird griller cum Geordie caricature into a genuine cultural phenomenon, Celebrity Big Brother winner, the reigning-king of Geordie Shore, the golden goose of reality television. And this goes hand-in-hand with a slow acceptance of Geordie Shore, what it is and who it's for. Watch the early episodes and you can see why it used to illicit holier-than-though eye rolls from certain factions: it is literally eight unpolished Geordies fucking in a hot tub, Geordies before their MTV-issue elocution lessons, Geordies inventing shit catchphrases and bugle-to-nostril nightclub gestures, Geordies getting mortal.
It's not much more evolved now, but there's something about Geordie Shore that sings to a doomed generation: we will never own property, we will never afford families or education, we may as well spend our money and time getting buff and then fucking each other. Geordie Shore is essentially a TV show where girls get really drunk and shout at men who have never worn a jacket against the cold ever in their life; a world where people don't enter relationships per se, they just solemnly vow not to pull other people and then break those vows within the hour. Geordie Shore is the most anaemic middle-of-a-city £15-entry nightclub in the world, distilled into a TV show. It's almost anti-ambition in the way it's just the same eight people throwing the same drinks in the same six Newcastle nightclubs. Geordie Shore is a weird place that seems to exist outside of society; no boundaries or rules beyond: "Put a duvet over your arse while you're fucking or we can't get the night vision footage of it past the censors." A place where fighting is only chastised when someone – normally two lads, furious fistfuls of each other's T-shirt, flurrying around the room like a cartoon western brawl – accidentally breaks a table. It's a fantasy land where responsibility doesn't exist and nothing is real. It is absolutely designed for Scotty T to exist in.
But this is the thing: despite the fact that 60 percent of the sentences he utters are directly about his chopper, there is something innocent and sincere about Scotty T. The trivialities of the Geordie Shore household pass Scotty T by – Gary always bringing the vibe down on nights out by taking Charlotte to one side and saying he'll always be there for her; Vicky being furious; none of the boys capable of wearing a non-V-neck shirt – because he is the grand prince, the muscular savant; because there is always toast on offer. Scotty T sees the world in perfect black and white: that women are there to chat to and fuck and boys are there to do clumsy half-high five, half-hugs with, and that's everything you need to know. Despite striking out and winning Celebrity Big Brother, appearing on Ex On the Beach and modelling a new range of bomber jackets for Boohoo, the Scotty T who entered fully formed celebrity will leave it the same way.
Scotty T endures, reality TV can't change him. He exists for this: he is living his best life, he is doing what he loves, his toast and birds-based joie de vivre pulses out of his body through every pore. Scotty T is heroic because he lives a life of pure fantasy for most people, but is exactly as happy just going home alone and eating a plate of chicken dippers while standing at a kitchen island. This is an innocent, perfect satisfaction with life that I aspire to, and you should aspire to, too. All hail Scotty T, a sort of wise-bantery Dalai Lama. All hail Scotty T, a generation-defining lad.
Coming soon on VICE, Joel Golby gets a party bus with the cast of 'Geordie Shore'.
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